North Korea is one of those countries that is just shrouded in mystery. The country is very secretive about what really goes on when no one from the outside world is looking. That’s why when they do allow visitors, they only allow certain types of photographs to be taken. However, some photographers have been brave enough to defy the rules and have come back with some astonishing photos. Here are 20 illegal photos that showcase what life in North Korea is really like.
20. Food Shortages
As a closed-off country, North Korea has often been faced with food shortages. This is something that they don’t like to acknowledge. However, it greatly impacts the poorer parts of the country where a majority of the people live.
19. Bleak Days
Day-to-day life can be pretty depressing in North Korea. It is especially tough for them make it through each day. This picture perfectly captures that!
Photos recently surfaced of just how badly the food crisis is in North Korea. In fact, many of the children in North Korea are so horrible malnourished that their bones are showing. It’s pretty horrifying to see.
17. Child Labor
Life in North Korea is particularly difficult for all of the poorer people living in the country. Since food is in such shortage, many children have to work long hours out on the fields. Much of the country’s labor is driven by children, in fact.
According to stats released, an estimated 41% of the population, 10.5 million people, are believed to be undernourished. Many of them are suffering from hunger and the country isn’t doing much to remedy the situation.
15. Getty Photographer
One photographer in particular, by the name of Xiaolu Chu, traveled through North Korea back in 2015. As he traveled by train through the rural area, he noticed that many of the people living in rural areas would stand out and beg for money. He ended up sharing up some of the photos with Business Insider.
14. Incredibly Thin
One of the things that Chu immediately noticed was that no one living in North Korea is overweight at all. In fact, the majority of the people are incredibly thin. “There are nearly no fat people in North Korea,” Chu told Business Insider. “Everyone looks very thin.”
13. Horrible Living Conditions
Although those living in rural conditions face terrible conditions, those living in big cities don’t have it much better either. Many of them living high-rise apartments and they run into issues all the time. They often have electricity outages and the elevators always breakdown.
12. No Internet
There’s also barely any access to Internet in North Korea. You can really only get Internet access in major libraries like the one in this library in Pyongyang. Even still, the access is quite limited.
11. The Military
One of the most well-known aspects of North Korean is their love of their military. Kim Jong Un loves to show off the might of his military. He often puts on fancy parades and shows with the military.
10. Soldier Lifestyle
Although the military always looks good when the official cameras are on, behind-the-scenes everything is quite different. Many of the military members are incredibly malnourished and they’re constantly ill because of the lack of food.
9. Eating Grass
In fact, food is so scarce that military members are often found eating grass. Here’s a photo of one of the military men pulling grass from the fields. This is how they get a minimal amount of food.
It is also explicitly forbidden by the government for malnutrition to be documented. So whenever a photographer visiting North Korea did so, they were risking their lives. Here is a photo of another severely malnourished solider.
It’s also not very uncommon for soldiers to attempt and escape from the country at the border. In fact, many soldiers try to escape into North Korea. However, the number of defections have gone done after the military got incredibly strict about them.
North Korea is incredibly strict about any defections. In fact, the military men are trained to kill on the spot anyone that is attempting to leave the country. This is a photo of bullet holes left over from when soldiers attempted to gun down a defector.
5. Prison Camps
North Korea is also notoriously known for their horrific prison camps. In fact, it doesn’t take more than a minor infraction to be thrown into one. The conditions that the prisons face are horrific and brutal…
4. Terrible Conditions
Prisoners that are sent to the prison camps often face horrible conditions. They are starved, forced to do hard manual labor, and they are also often tortured. Many times they also face harsh interrogations if the government thinks that the individual is working against them.
One photographer was able to capture the moment when some rural village children first saw an escalator. They were both afraid and intrigued by the stairs that seemed to magically move. This just goes to show how far behind the country is.
2. Rural Homes
Many villagers living in rural homes find themselves running into problems constantly. In this home, they ran out of water so they had to conserve it. This is the sad reality of life in North Korea.
1. Harsh Life
Life in North Korea is not easy, especially not for those that are incredibly poor. It is the sad reality that the North Korean government would rather keep hidden. However, photographs like these give us a glimpse into what life is really like for those living there.